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The Loss of RAF Harrier ZD349 14th January 1994.

Article about: Recalling the fatal crash back in 1994 of RAF Harrier ZD349 me and my wife Paula decided that we would have a look over the site where it happened as part of our preparations for a magazine

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    Default The Loss of RAF Harrier ZD349 14th January 1994.

    Recalling the fatal crash back in 1994 of RAF Harrier ZD349 me and my wife Paula decided that we would have a look over the site where it happened as part of our preparations for a magazine article on this incident. The crash site is local to us and only 20 mins bike ride away though i have never visited it before, not sure why really but glad we did go. Its a sad story as many crashes are but here goes. The events of the day were witnessed by many local people who saw up to six RAF Harriers in the sky flying very low over the Broadway Aston Sommervile area on that day. ZD349 was being flown by 29 year old United States Marine Corps pilot Captain Brendan K Hearney who had been on an exchange with the RAF based at RAF Wittering. He was a very experienced Harrier pilot just like his father who was a senior General in the USMC. Tragedy struck when Captain Hearney was 'bounced' by another Harrier, he came down at very low altitude less than 250 feet setting off his Ground Proximity Warning Radar. it seems at this point between childswickham and Aston Sommervile that a bird/or flock of birds possibly spooked by the noise of the approaching jets flew up out of trees and either one or more entered the engine of ZD349 causing either fire or compressor explosion. With the loss of power began a fight to control the stricken jet and steer it away from the little village where it was now heading. Travelling at 492mph across open farmland the aircraft hit the ground and bounced up and down several times as it headed directly for Deerfold Bungalow. Captain Hearney made the split second decision to stay in the aircraft to steer it away from a nearby school and to try to avoid hitting the Bungalow. The main impact occurred just across the road from Deerfold Bungalow the aircraft impacted heavily went through a hedge across the road and struck the small bungalow a glancing blow causing some relatively minor damage and sending a fuel tank into the living room. Luckily no one was at home and the fuel did not ignite. The Harrier broke up bursting into flame and wreckage was spread over two or three fields. Captain Hearney was killed in the crash. Today a small memorial stands by Deerfold Bungalow, erected by his family and comrades and the only real signs that anything tragic had happened at this stunningly beautiful spot. Me and Paula walked the field to the front of the Bungalow and found a few small pieces of metal with paint still intact from the Harrier and Paula found a chunk of cockpit perspex. The current owner of Deerfold Bungalow was out mowing his lawns so we were able to ask him what he knew about the crash. He related the events similar to the above and mentioned he still finds bits of metal from the Harrier when digging his garden vegetable plot. Before we left he said he found a sizeable piece while walking on the bridleway some months ago and i asked to see it so as i could photograph it for the article. When john returned from his kitchen he had what looked to be a fitting of some sort which when i checked confirmed it as one of the two brackets that hold the ventral airbrake panel. Again this still had paintwork remains on it. There are some photos of Harrier ZD349 which can be easily found on the net plus press cuttings of the local coverage of the incident. Once i have taken all the photos i will post 'then and now' photos and include the few pieces of the aircraft. Again i know this is modern but i think deserves some commemoration as this brave pilot steered that aircraft away from the village sacrificing his own life. I know he had a one year old daughter at the time of the crash who is now 18 years old. Cant imagine those last few seconds and what a brave pilot. I hope to get all of the data and post it as i get it as still waiting to hear from official sources both here in the UK and the USA. I hope this is of interest to the members and thanks for looking.

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    An interesting write up Leon.. & I will wait for the photos! Always good to have some snaps..Sounds like a brave pilot when he could just ejected & left the aircraft to it!!!. Cheers Terry.

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    I've a feeling that some of this wreckage was still in storage at Wittering in 2004/5 as the RAF didn't know how to dispose of the carbon fibre sections. I remember there were a number of wrecks in the black top hanger, the Lowestoft aircraft, 2 T10s and lots of 'Other' aircraft sections.

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    Quote by Tango View Post
    An interesting write up Leon.. & I will wait for the photos! Always good to have some snaps..Sounds like a brave pilot when he could just ejected & left the aircraft to it!!!. Cheers Terry.
    Hi Terry , it was interesting indeed, although I didn't write it! I'm PINK my friend, we have another Fallschirmjager "dropping" in from above here! Leon.
    "Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut." Ernest Hemingway

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    Far too many Fallschirmjagers around here I get confused lol.. I did think you normally put your name at the end but thought hey ho his forgot?. Never mind still a good write up.. lol. Cheers Terry.

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    I have to say that what M3bobby has mention is very True. I work Air Traffic control maintenance at MCAS Yuma. Home of VMA 211,214,(black Sheep)311(Wake island avengers) all Harrier squadrons. We have had several Harrier crashes. One in town. It had a full rack of 4 5oo lbs. Bombs and 30 mm ammo that destroyed several house's.The 30's cooked off and the site was cordoned off until it stooped POPPING. The Carbon fiber just burned to ashes!! The Carbon Fiber is also considered Hazardous material when it burns. So nobody but the HAZ mat team was allowed in the area until it was ALL cleaned up!!!!
    Just a Tidbit,
    Since my job includes making the legal audio and radar recording's of the "Incidents". I have the pilots voice recording into these mishaps which has been VERY INFORMATIVE while making these recordings. I have had to listen to some Very Descriptive tragic ending's.

    Semper Fi
    Phil

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    Default Harrier ZD349 Memorial photos.

    Hi Guys, Just getting pics sorted via new camera and heres one or two to get started. One shows me at Captain Brendan Hearney's memorial which is located to the left side of Deerfold-the bungalow that the aircraft clipped. Second shows Deerfold bungalow itself and view of the main impact area where the Harrier began to break up. Me and Pauline visit the site regularly as its in such a stunningly beautiful countryside location. We allways visit the memorial when we go walking there. Cheers Tim.

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    Heres a few pictures of some of the items of wreckage from Harrier ZD349 found in situ. These were discovered lying on top of the soil after ploughing by the farmer. Since these photographs were taken by me and Paula who visited the site throughout last summer and continuing this year we have discovered previously non accessible area where farmer has been dumping much of the debris such as rocks old metal etc that gets in way of his plough. When we looked into this pit which was completely covered with thorn bushes last summer we found two good sized pieces of panelling still with green paintwork intact. We will post these pics in due course. We are still looking to find a photo of Brendon so if anyone knows anything please drop in as we want to keep his remembrance going Attachment 831048Attachment 831049Attachment 831050Attachment 831051Attachment 831052Attachment 831053Attachment 831054Attachment 831055Attachment 831048Attachment 831049Attachment 831050Attachment 831051Attachment 831052Attachment 831053Attachment 831054Attachment 831055

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    Hello,

    I stumbled upon this site and am so thankful for all the kind words expressed about, my brother, Capt. Brenden Hearney. He is not forgotten in our family and it's so nice to know that others have not forgotten him either. The only pictures I was able to find (at my house) are from his University graduation (he attended USC as Marine ROTC, hence the whites). I will upload pictures, later, closer to his age when he died.

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    /Users/meaghansirvatka/Desktop/Brenden 2IMG_1456 copy.jpg/Users/meaghansirvatka/Desktop/IMG_1458 copy.jpg

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